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The new course of the Yellow River connected the city to the Grand Canal and regional waterways in northern Shandong and southern Hebei.
German influence in Jinan grew after the Qing dynasty ceded Qingdao to the German Empire in 1897.
During the times of the Zhou dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC), the city of Lixia (simplified Chinese: ) was the major settlement in the area.
The name "Lixia" refers to the location of Jinan at the foot of Mount Li, which lies to the south of the city).
Two of the most important poets of the Southern Song were both born in Jinan: Li Qingzhao (李清照, 1084–1151 CE), the most renown female poet in Chinese history, and Xin Qiji (辛弃疾, 1140–1207 CE), who was also a military leader of the Southern Song dynasty.
Both poets witnessed a series of crushing defeats of the Song dynasty at the hands of the Jurchens who gained control over almost half of the Song territories and established the Jin dynasty in northern China.
The area of present-day Jinan has been inhabited for more than 4000 years.
The Neolithic Longshan Culture was first discovered at the Chéngzǐyá () site to the east of Jinan (Zhangqiu City) in 1928.
The Jiaoji (Qingdao–Jinan) railway was built by the Germans against local resistance.Jinan remained the cultural center of the region during the Song dynasty (960 – 1279 CE).The Song rulers promoted Jinan to a superior prefecture in 1116 CE.Geographer Yú Qīn (于钦/于欽, 1284–1333) also served as an official in Jinan and authored his geography book Qí Chéng (齐乘) there.In 1852, the northward shift of the Yellow River into a new bed close to the city triggered the modern expansion of Jinan.